LESSONS FOR LIFE

Bhushan Pat­ward­han, vice chan­cel­lor, Sym­bio­sis In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity, in­tro­duces in­no­va­tion while bridg­ing the gap be­tween an­cient and modern ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems

India Today - - PUNE - DE­VIKA JEET

In April 2011, Bhushan Pat­ward­han made an im­por­tant ca­reer change and took over as vice chan­cel­lor of a young univer­sity keen to grow and ex­cel fast. “The vi­sion of Sym­bio­sis In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity (SIU) is to be the pre­ferred desti­na­tion for all who as­pire to ex­cel. In next five years, I want to make SIU one of the top uni­ver­si­ties in Asia where fo­cus is on de­vel­op­ing global cit­i­zens and not just gen­er­at­ing grad­u­ates,” says Pat­ward­han.

Keep­ing pace with the univer­sity’s vi­sion and growth plans. Pat­ward­han brought about changes and has al­ready seen pos­i­tive re­sults. “When I took over, Sym­bio­sis was a con­glom­er­a­tion of sev­eral au­ton­o­mous in­sti­tu­tions of ex­cel­lence. How­ever, there were com­part­ments; there was no unity in di­ver­sity, the real sym­bio­sis of minds was miss­ing, the sys­tem needed ef­fec­tive over­ar­ch­ing lead­er­ship and the fo­cus of ed­u­ca­tion was more on place­ments and not much on re­search and in­no­va­tion. My in­tense in­ter­ac­tions with fac­ulty has re­sulted in the change of mind­set and now SIU is emerg­ing as mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary univer­sity. Other achieve­ments in­clud­ing es­tab­lish­ment of in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary re­search clus­ters, es­tab­lish­ment of chair pro­fes­sor­ships and adding new dis­ci­plines”.

The growth plans don’t end here. This dy­namic vice chan­cel­lor is now fo­cused on at­tract­ing more tal­ent, build­ing a re­search cul­ture, knowl­edge gen­er­a­tion, wealth cre­ation and so­cial mo­bil­i­sa­tion. Pat­ward­han’s vi­sion for Sym­bio­sis In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity can be broadly di­vided into five cat­e­gories, in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion, in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary, in­te­gra­tion, in­no­va­tion and in­tegrity.

“My strat­egy are sim­ple; at­tract best tal­ents, cre­ate vi­brant grounds great minds, cre­at­ing ideas and in­spire fac­ulty and stu­dents to em­brace re­search, in­no­va­tion and en­trepreneur­ship. I be­lieve that in­sti­tu­tions of ex­cel­lence are built not only by strong bricks but also by com­mit­ted peo­ple. My strat­egy is to in­cul­cate and strengthen re­search cul­ture from an un­der grad­u­ate level.”

Pat­ward­han has been part of the In­dian ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem for over twenty years and has noted changes in this pe­riod. He feels, “In­dia needs more holis­tic, flex­i­ble and vi­brant uni­ver­si­ties where re­search and in­no­va­tive teach­ing be­comes an in­te­gral part of ev­ery cur­ricu­lum and where know­ing, learn­ing and do­ing go hand in hand. Ad­dress­ing is­sues of skills, eq­uity and ex­cel­lence are very cru­cial. Giv­ing best and equal op­por­tu­ni­ties to mil­lions of bright young stu­dents from dif­fer­ent parts of In­dia and in­creas­ing the scale with­out com­pro­mis­ing qual­ity are quite cru­cial.”

Pat­ward­han’s ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy to meet to­day’s chal­leng­ing stan­dards goes back to the In­dian ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in an­cient times. “In­dian tra­di­tions have ad­vo­cated four lev­els teach­ing, Ad­hidi is the first step when in­for­ma­tion is just ab­sorbed; sec­ond step is Bodha that in­volves deeper un­der­stand­ing and gain­ing knowl­edge; third step is Acha­rana mean­ing prac­tice and the forth step is Pracha­rana mean­ing preach­ing. Ev­ery fac­ulty mem­ber and stu­dent must go through all the phases se­quen­tially.” These steps re­it­er­ate the im­por­tance of en­quiry and in­ves­ti­ga­tion that are ma­jor strengths of the In­dian ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Dis­cussing fac­ulty mem­bers, Pat­ward­han feels that, “re­tain­ing and at­tract­ing com­pe­tent fac­ulty re­mains a ma­jor chal­lenge. While var­i­ous reg­u­la­tions on qual­i­fi­ca­tions of fac­ulty are nec­es­sary, some de­gree of flex­i­bil­ity is needed to at­tract and re­tain fac­ulty. Dur­ing my ten­ure of six months I have ap­pointed over 100 new fac­ulty mem­bers”.

As an ed­u­ca­tion­ist, Pat­ward­han’s ad­vice to young stu­dents is to, “think, ideate, ex­pe­ri­ence, ex­plore, learn, play, work and get mo­ti­vated to meet the chal­lenges to shape your ca­reer and fu­ture. I hope you will take full ad­van­tage and meet the chal­lenges of­fered in this new ex­cit­ing world.”

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